The “Cutie Map” is introduced in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Season 5 Episodes 1 & 2, in the eponymously titled 2-parter, “The Cutie Map, Pt. 1” and “The Cutie Map, Pt. 2.”

The Cutie Map is introduced as a new magic power, available to the Mane 6 characters — Princess Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Apple Jack, and Fluttershy — which shows where their powers are most needed, as reflected by their Cutie Marks. It is essentially a magical holographic map of Equestria which shows places in need of help.

In this case, it was long established that each of the Mane 6 are the bearers of the Elements of Harmony:

Princess Twilight: Element of Magic
Rainbow Dash: Element of Loyalty
Pinkie Pie: Element of Laughter
Rarity: Element of Generosity
Apple Jack: Element of Honesty
Fluttershy: Element of Kindness

The Cutie Map shows a location where all six Cutie Marks are congregated, reflecting at least a location which is bereft of magic, loyalty, laughter, generosity, honesty, and kindness — all at the same time and place.

The location is a Pony town led by Starlight Glimmer, who has convinced the entirety of the towns’ residents to give up their own Cutie Marks, thereby having them replaced by “=“ representing that all of the ponies are equal, none have any individual trait the others don’t have.

Is the in-universe supernatural and magical recognition through the Cutie Map of the concept of equality as exercised by Starlight Glimmer in the form of voluntarily foregoing one’s own individual traits separating oneself from others, objectively mean that such form of equality is an all-hands-on-deck problem which needs the immediate application of magic, loyalty, laughter, generosity, honesty and kindness? In Ponyverse is such equality an unkind, disloyal, or fraudulent concept?

1 Answer 1


Before answering the real question, let's at least point out a little misconception your post seems to make. There is no real indication that the map chooses who to send on a specific mission based on the "element" alone. Personality seems to be involved too - for example the map seems to have avoided sending Pinkie in when her exuberant personality may represent a problem (imagine Pinkie being choose in "The Sound of Silence" for example...). So, I guess that it is better to not assume that when a problem arises, the ponies that are choose are the one whose "elements" fits best. More specifically: this doesn't seem a clear-cut "Ethical system" like the Virtues in the Ultima series - despite what fans used to hope, the series never introduced the opposite of the Elements - Elements of Hostility as some called them - as a direct plot element (the closest to that is Discord spell in season 2). So Harmony doesn't seem to work on a "rock-paper-scissor" way where Honesty wins on Lie, Laughter wins on Humiliation and so on.
Therefore, I wouldn't say that whatever Starlight Equality was really about the fact that everyone got choosen directly means that her idea should be regarded as an "an all-hands-on-deck problem which needs the immediate application of magic, loyalty, laughter, generosity, honesty and kindness".

As for the rest, this is obviously spoiler for the specific episode you mentioned, so I will use the spoiler markup even if the episode is quite old by now.

Let's start with a clarification: Starlight "plan" was never about "Equality" - notice how she never gave away her Cutie Mark for example.
Starlight resentment against Cutie Marks and the "individuality" they represent is born from her own past - she had a friend in Sunburn and she "lost" him. In her mind, Sunburst getting his Mark and going to magic school is what stole him from her.
Therefore, Starlight's objective isn't found in "Equality" as a way to make everyone equal. The "Equality" is just a tool for her real aim to remove the cause of her lost - in her view the Cutie Mark represents the "ambition/vision" of a pony and that vision is what drives a pony to pursue his dreams even if that dream means to leave a friend behind... to leave her. So the best way to be sure that she never has to say farewell again is to be sure that nopony ever has a reason to do something new... after all as she says in her song "You can't have a nightmare if you never dream".

Also worth noticing is that Starlight plan is not about "Equality" as in "everyone is equal and has the same rights" - that is not even the meaning of "Equality" she has in mind. The story isn't either a retelling of Animal Farm nor - despite what many seems to believe - an attempt at analyzing ideas related to real-world Communism. A better comparison would be Kurt Vonnegut's short story Harrison Bergeron ([full text available here, link taken from Wikipedia) - a dystopian story about people wearing external handicap devices to strip them from anything that made them different. "Equality" here means just that. Everypony need to conform to a common idea so that no one will try something that could disrupt status-quo. Her desire is the same that moved Lum in the anime movie "Beautiful Dreamer": "I just want to be forever with my friends. Everyone else could as well not exist". For this reason the story also isn't a story about people realizing that they could be more happy if Social inequality was abolished: those are just Starlight claims to try to sugar coat what is really happening.
Under Starlight facade the reality is different. Ponies are unhappy, force coerced into an idea of abandoning their dreams so that no one will ever get away again. You see forced smiles during the "Our Town" song, you see desperate attempts to comb their mane in a different way being immediately stopped... you even see a prison used to subdue ponies into giving up to the "Equality" fake ideal. What Starlight is trying to achieve is not Equality. Starlight wants an Immovable Eternity, unperturbed by any dream or exception that may take anyone on a different path, a path that would take them far away just like Sunburst. Her world must be a static one, one where nothing changes - only then she may be sure that she will never have to say farewell again.
It should then be clear by now that the map isn't sending the ponies on a mission to fight against the idea of Equality. The Mane Six are sent there to help the suffering ponies that live under Starlight decree. And to help Starlight - a pony that raised a wall around herself in a desperate attempt to never have to suffer a loss again.

If you ever have the chance, I suggest you read the My Little Pony official IDW comic arc called "Siege of the Crystal Empire". You may notice some similarities about Sombra's story in the comic and what Starlight went thru.

  • Nice. Very complete. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 15:48

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